Acclaimed Egyptian author and professor Reem Bassiouney has been awarded the 2019/2020 Naguib Mahfouz Award for the Best Egyptian Novel of the Year for her seventh novel Sons of the People: The Mamluk Triology. 

Released in 2018, the novel “aims to approach history with a deeper outlook on the human experience of the Mamluks in Egypt, who originally came as owned slaves and then later ruled Egypt for around 267 years.”

Bassiouney says: “I want readers to understand history, and to think in a different way about historical and social issues, and how they judge and perceive others. I also want them to think deeply about the human experience, and to think from all different perspectives, and this is mainly what I want for all my novels.”

Egyptian Street reports that the award announcement was made by Egypt’s Supreme Council of Culture, under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture. The award for Best Arabic Novel went to Mauritanian writer Mohamed Fadel Ibrahim for his novel The Book of Apostasy. 

The Naguib Mahfouz Award is named after Egypatian writer and Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz. It is different from the similarly named Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature which is annually presented by the American University in Cairo Press. The Naguib Mahfouz Award was revived in 2017 after a nearly 20-year long hiatus. Bassiouney is the first woman novelist to receive the award.

Born in Alexandria in 1973, Reem Bassiouney studied English Literature at Alexandria University and obtained a doctorate from Oxford University. She is currently professor of sociolinguistics at The American University in Cairo and has written many novels and academic texts including Professor Hanaa which won the 2009 Sawiris Foundation Literary Prize for Young Writers.

Brittle Paper congratulates Reem Bassiouney.